Cyclists harassed by motorist
02/19/09//3:45 MO 486 NNP– Thursday afternoon, my ten-year-old son, Max, and I were riding home from school. We turned left on to Broadway from the Office Depot parking lot and headed west up the hill toward Garth. Since we were moving slowly, we were traveling in the right most lane. Per state law, we were taking the lane, which is not only the legal bike position, but the safest place for us to ride given the situation. While working our way up the hill, a car came up behind us and chirped its horn. Instead of passing, which the driver could easily have done since the left lane was lightly trafficked, the driver stayed directly behind us and chirped his horn twice more as we entered the school zone and approached the Garth intersection.
The light was green and the car followed us through the intersection. As soon as we cleared the intersection, the driver pulled out to pass. The left lane was completely clear, but the driver passed approximately 8 inches from my bike, so close that he almost caused me to lose control. After passing us, he pulled immediately back into the lane in front of Max and put on his brakes suddenly, forcing Max and I to quickly apply our brakes so we didn’t run into his car. At this point, I was terrified and scared for my son’s safety and my own. I yelled, "We have a right to the road. A------." He then proceeded to drive so slowly in front of us for a block and a half, that Max and I had to keep our brakes on to avoid hitting his car. He pulled into the normal flow of traffic near McBaine and was gone.
When I arrived home, I called the police to report the incident. I spoke with PO Turner, #1985, at 4:11PM. PO Turner took my statement and informed me that he would see what he could do. At 4:34PM, PO Turner called me back to say that he had run the plates and found that the car was registered in St. Louis, with no local address. He further stated that the police would be on the lookout for the driver, if they saw him they would pull him over and talk with him. Despite the fact that he broke traffic laws and used his car in a threatening manner, nothing else could be done. So unless he hurts someone and gets caught, there will be no repercussions for his hostile and threatening behavior towards my son and me.
The following laws were broken by this driver’s aggressive behavior.
Overtake Bicycles at a Safe Distance – RSMO 300.411 & 304.678 – The operator of a motor vehicle overtaking a bicycle proceeding in the same direction on the roadway, as defined in RSMO 300.010, shall leave a safe distance, when passing the bicycle, and shall maintain clearance until safely past the overtaken bicycle. (2) Any person who violates the provisions of this section is guilty of an infraction unless an accident is involved in which case it shall be a class C misdemeanor.
Riding to Right, Required for Bicycles and Motorized Bicycles – RSMO 307.190 – Every person operating a bicycle or motorized bicycle at less than the posted speed or slower than the flow of traffic upon a street or highway shall ride as near to the right side of the roadway as safe, exercising due care when passing a standing vehicle or one proceeding in the same direction, except when making a left turn, when avoiding hazardous conditions, when the lane is too narrow to share with another vehicle or when on a one-way street. Bicyclists may ride abreast when not impeding other vehicles.
The following is from the Missouri Driver’s Guide:
When you are passing, give motorcycles a full lane width. If possible, give a full lane to bicycles and mopeds, too. Do not squeeze past these road users. The bicycle is generally a slower moving vehicle and this may require you to slow down. Wait for a clear stretch of road before passing a cyclist in a lane too narrow to share.
Note: Safe passing distance is generally defined as 3’-5’ between the vehicle and the cyclist being passed. Safe distance between the cyclist and the curb, is generally considered as 1.5’-3’ depending on the road conditions. The traffic lanes on Broadway where the incident occurred are 9’6" wide…too narrow to share with a car. Thus, my son and I were taking the lane as is advised by MO State law. The left westbound lane was lightly trafficked during the whole incident and completely empty when the driver passed us, leaving more than ample room for him to give us safe clearance while passing.
Assault in the Third Degree – RSMO 565.070
565.070. 1. A person commits the crime of assault in the third degree if:
(1) The person attempts to cause or recklessly causes physical injury to another person; or
(2) With criminal negligence the person causes physical injury to another person by means of a deadly weapon; or
(3) The person purposely places another person in apprehension of immediate physical injury; or
(4) The person recklessly engages in conduct which creates a grave risk of death or serious physical injury to another person; or
(5) The person knowingly causes physical contact with another person knowing the other person will regard the contact as offensive or provocative; or
(6) The person knowingly causes physical contact with an incapacitated person, as defined in section 475.010, RSMo, which a reasonable person, who is not incapacitated, would consider offensive or provocative.
3. A person who violates the provisions of subdivision (3) or (5) of subsection 1 of this section is guilty of a class C misdemeanor. -